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Cannes 2012: John Cleese Joins Israeli Comedy 'Hunting Elephants'

John Cleese Sydney - H 2012
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The heist comedy is helmed by Israeli director Reshef Levi.

Legendary comic actor John Cleese has joined the cast of Hunting Elephants, a heist comedy from Israeli director Reshef Levi, whose debut was the award-winning Lost Islands (2008).

Cleese will play a disgraced, eccentric British lord who gets mixed up with a group of Israeli misfits who hatch a plan to rob a bank to get the money they need to save their family home.

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The story, which Levi also wrote, focuses on Jonathan, a precocious 12-year-old whose life threatens to fall apart after his father dies in an accident at the bank he works for. The bank refuses to take responsibility and even threatens to reposes Jonathan’s home, leading to his decision to stage the heist with the only gang he can find: three senior citizens.

Hunting Elephants also stars Iraqi actor Sasson Gabai, a European Film Award winner for his starring role in The Band’s Visit (2007), as Jonathan’s cranky grandfather and partner in crime Elijah and Israeli actor Moni Moshonov – whose on screen credits include James Gray’s Two Lovers (2008) and We Own the Night (2007) as Elijah’s wily friend Nick.

The Band’s Visit producer Ehud Bleiberg is handling production duties on the film, together with Moshe and Leon Edery, whose credits include Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanon (2009) and Eran Riklis’ Lemon Tree (2008) winner of the Panorama audience award in Berlin.

Bleiberg’s sales outfit Bleiberg Entertainment is handling worldwide sales and is shopping the title to buyers at the Cannes film market.